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Conflict and development in the hill settlements of Guwahati

November 17, 2016

In India’s northeastern city of Guwahati, rapid growth has fueled an explosion of unplanned development, including in surrounding forests, hills, and wetlands. The spillover of development puts both communities and the environment at risk. With no secure tenure and limited access to basic services, residents of informal settlements face forced eviction. Encroachment in these sensitive areas, meanwhile, has clogged the area’s natural drainage and hastened erosion, deepening the impacts of recent flash floods. While surrounding hills areas are threatened by both informal settlements and commercial developments, settlers feel singled out in crackdowns by authorities.  

In this 2016 study on informal hill settlements in Guwahati, researchers with CEPT University’s Centre for Urban Equity and the Society for Social Transformation and Environmental Protection shed light on how gaps in planning and governance have fueled conflict. It reveals how land policy, legislation, and basic service provision are deepening social exclusion and inequality, and how hill dwellers are responding to these challenges. The paper also questions the effectiveness of state interventions to mitigate the violence.

Read the working paper "Informal Development, Services Access and Land Rights Claims: Dynamics of Conflicts in Hill Settlements, Guwahati" (PDF, 7.64MB).

Explore the project Poverty, inequality and violence in urban India: Towards more inclusive urban planning.

Learn more about IDRC’s research support to make cities safer through the Safe and Inclusive Cities partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development.